Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turning Off the Furnace Attracts Media Attention

Setting personal challenges has always been something I've enjoyed doing. I'm not sure why. Often physical in nature, these challenges have been a way to stretch myself, test my endurance or simply make routine tasks more interesting. It's also been a way to make seemingly impossible goals more manageable when broken down into smaller components.

So I was quite excited when a recent challenge I set for myself and fellow bloggers drew the attention of the media. In my personal finance blog, Wild Blue Yonder, I invited others to join me in the 2nd annual No Heat Challenge. Simply put, the contest was to see how long each of us could go into the fall without turning on the heat. (Using the fireplace, stove or a space heater would be cheating, and each of us was on the honor system to report the date we charged up the furnace.)

Of course, those with young children or elderly family members living in the home would not want to participate in this particular challenge, but we did have about 20 enthusiastic participants from California to Georgia and everywhere in between.

I soon learned that my No Heat Challenge was by no means unique. There was, in fact, an entire town in New Jersey that was enduring the same kind of masochistic game. And so I was "discovered" by an intrepid reporter intent on ferreting out other examples of a rather punishing trend. I was interviewed first by a reporter with the (Newark, NJ) Star Ledger, and then, a few weeks after that story was published, a writer with USA Today also called me.

It was quite flattering to be considered an "expert" on energy efficiency topics and, gently prodded by the reporters, I did my best to shift from my simple contest to comment from a larger perspective on different ways to save on energy costs and why this is important.

I managed to squeeze in a fond reference to my Kill-o-Watt meter and touch on CFLs, as well as my personal obsession with tracking gallons of heating oil used each season and price per gallon paid.

The No Heat Challenge continues today. At least, I think it does. Sometimes, people forget to report in that they turned the heat on. I myself flipped the switch in mid-October, but I'm already thinking about what other sorts of energy-efficiency personal challenges could come next.

Will you join me?

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